Out of sight – out of mind?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at 1:23 | Posted in Canada, smoking | 3 Comments

WYSIWYG or “What You See IS What You Get” seems to be the reasoning behind regulations that health officials in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia are imposing convenience stores to follow on sales of tobacco. A law taking effect this fall requires store owners to keep tobacco products out of sight in a closed cabinet below or above the counter.

The vendors are less than amused about the new regulations. It costs them money to implement the required changes and causes problems with physical space in the shops. 200 shop owners are gathering for a protest meeting in Dartmouth. Said Atlantic Convenience Stores Association chairman Mike Hammoud to the CBC:

We feel as retailers this has been very rushed through very quickly and we just don’t have the time, so we’re asking for some more time.

The authorities, however, are not even considering to give in, neither on time table nor on compensating the cost to vendors. They suggest that the extra cost should be passed on customers:

“If they are looking for other options that might be something that they would consider,” said Steve Machat, with the Department of Health Promotion, “but the department is not considering compensating vendors for the changes they need to make.”

The obvious goal of this legislation must be to cut down smoking. 22 % of Nova Scotians are smokers, compared to 19 % elsewhere in Canada. These regulations must have been at large adopted by non smokers. A smoker would know that addiction to tobacco has nothing to do with making tobacco products uncomfortable or even more expensive to buy and sell.

It does just not work that way. As a heavy smoker for 38 years I can tell the Nova Scotian government that there is no way I would forget to buy fags just because they are out of sight and more difficult to access at the store. Neither did I spontaneously start to smoke for 38 years ago just because I noticed that cigarettes are being sold by my local vendor.

If I were 12 years today, knowing what I now know about health hazards and addiction, I would probably not start smoking. So any government sincerely aiming at cutting the smoking rate should focus on convincing 12 year old kids that smoking is not a good idea. That is what I tell youngsters almost every day and strangely enough, most of them listen and believe what I say. They take my word for it because they realize that I know what I am talking about.

Intimidating smokers and shop owners has no effect on smoking rates. I would buy my fags even if I had to sing the national anthem standing on one foot to get them at the shop. But if I were a citizen of Nova Scotia, I would vote for a candidate to the provincial parliament, who would be committed to sensible actions to cut smoking rather than this insulting WYSIWYG approach. Adult smokers have the right to be treated as what they are, that is adults.



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  1. […] Järkeä tupakan vastustamisessa ei ole käytetty myöskään Nova Scotian provinssissa […]

  2. There are people who think otherwise, that this “warning” doesn’t work. (And if you haven’t read Violent Acres before, see also some other posts. It’s a great blog.) Want to Stop Your Children From Smoking? Scar Them for Life!

  3. Warning labels on packages are indeed not an effective way to cut smoking. They are another annoying means. The label on the package pictured in this post says: “Smoking easily causes addiction. Do not start”. That is quite true but there is no point telling it to somebody who has smoked for 38 years. The message should be targeted at those who do not yet smoke. Somebody who already bought the package is not likely to throw it away because of the warning label.

    Thanks for the blog hint. I was just considering which blog to write about in Blogwatch on Saturday. 😉

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